Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Sara Allgood, Joan Barry, Harvey Braban, Johnny Butt, Donald Calthrop
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
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Early Promise of Greatness
Randy Keehn | Williston, ND United States | 07/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. His expertise as a director has helped create some bonafide film classics over his career. I got a box set of early Hitchcock movies and have been (generally) enjoying them. Some movies are noteworthy because they show the Master in the early development of his skills. Most of them, however, are not all that enthralling to watch. What they display in directorial talent is offset by an often lackluster plot. "Blackmail" is a significant exception to the others in that regard. "Blackmail" is a GOOD movie.
There is much of the Hitchcock talent to be appreciated in "Blackmail". Among the more impressive scenes are a murder in which virtually all of the action is behind a curtain yet there are enough details that we know exactly what is happening and why. There's also the perpetrator's stunned response to the events and her demeanor thereafter with complements to the director and actress. There's a chase through the British Museum that doesn't compare with some of his later movies but shows that he knows the importance of the "chase" as an intregal element in suspense. There are little things as well such as how Alice, resigned to her fate, rises from her chair and an innocent shadow becomes the image of a noose around her neck. There's the Master himself in one of his earliest and, perhaps his most obvious, cameo appearance. All of these and many other facets help a good plot move along in an impressive manor to where we don't know how the movie ends until we behold it ourselves.
"Blackmail" was noted as the first sound picture made in England. At first I thought that there was something wrong with my DVD because the only sound was music. However, in time the voices emerged (almost sounding dubbed at first) and the sound improved as the movie progressed. Regardless of the historical value of "Blackmail" for Hitchcock and other film buffs, this is an early movie that can be appreciated just for what it is. I gave it 4 "stars" because, let's face it, as good as it is, Hitchcock went on to do a lot better."
Early Glimpses of Genius
Bryan A. Pfleeger | Metairie, Louisiana United States | 03/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Alfred Hitchcock's 1929 feature Blackmail gives its viewer an early glimpse of the genius that the master director was to become. The film is a rather conventional thriller by today's standards. The plot folows the story of Alice White who kills in self defense only to have the murder blamed on a petty criminal who tries to blackmail Ms. White.
Hitchcock uses his trademark style to tell his story and gives an early example of the chase that would make him famous in later films. This chase through the British Museum foreshadows later chases in such films as North By Northwest. Also Hitchcock uses closeups in order to convey the notion that the world is closing in on his characters.
The disc I viewed had some problems. This low cost version had a tendency to freeze and skip at various moments. The print and sound quality is average. The material has not been restored. Overall the disc makes a decent but not perfect viewing experience. Watch this one if you are a fan of Hitchcock."
Remarkable in Many Ways Early Master's Film
Galina | Virginia, USA | 08/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Alfred Hitchcock's "Blackmail" (1929) is a movie remarkable in many ways. It is the first British sound film that was originally shot as a silent and then remade partially with the sound which gives it a very interesting look. It is the film where Hitchcock made the appearance for the first time which would become one of his trademarks. He already used his distinctive camera angles to create memorable effects in his very early picture. As the result, "Blackmail" looks, sounds, moves, and feels surprisingly modern and fresh for almost 80 years old production.
The film concerns a young woman Alice who began to flirt with an artist and while visiting his studio, she stabbed him to death in self-defense after she had refused his demands of posing in the nude and he would not take "no" for an answer.
Watching the movie I also noticed that Hitchcock and Luis Bunuel had the same fetishes - looks like the old saying proved to be right, great minds think (and desire) alike."
A Budding Genius
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 02/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A pair of gloves is the only evidence in a murder case. One is found by the detective working the case, the other by a sinister eyewitness who wants to "Blackmail" the killer. No, this is not a TV movie about OJ Simpson, this is early Hitch!(Only he could have known.)
In 1929 Alfred Hitchcock was already displaying his innate senses of style, suspense, shadowy figures, sensuality and lets not forget his wonderful sense of humor. This film has all those qualities that makes his films so recognizable.
Alice is bored, and steps out on Frank, her Scotland Yard boyfriend. Her "date" offers to paint her portrait. She agrees, but once in his apartment, he attacks her and she kills him in self defense.
The investigation leads her Detective boyfriend to realize she is the killer, but keeps it to himself, There's another witness, one that can blow the lid off the whole case.Alice's guilt is getting the best of her(shades of "Tell Tale Heart" by Poe). Will she turn herself in before it's too late, or will they keep this secret buried.
The film stars Anny Ondra (she's marvelous)as Alice,John Longden as Frank, and Donald Calthrop as the blackmailer."Blackmail started out as a silent but with films like the "Jazz Singer" opening in the States, Hitch decided to add sound to this one making it the first British "Talkie".This film can also be found with an even earlier silent from Hitch at:Blackmail/Easy VirtueEasy Virtue, a drama, not quite up there with this one, but still a real treat for fans.
Looking for Hitch: I spied him in the first 10 minutes in quite a comical cameo, don't miss it!
5 stars for keeping me on the edge of my seat,for keeping my heart pounding, for shades of greatness yet to come, and for a great piece of film history for collectors.....enjoy....Laurie